Clydesdale author leads library’s history campaign

Author Ethyl Smith (right) with library staff and members of the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association at the launch.
Author Ethyl Smith (right) with library staff and members of the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association at the launch.

A Clydesdale author has been chosen to lead a campaign to urge folk to find out more about this part of the world by reading about it.

That role for Auchenheath writer Ethyl Smith follows the publication of her latest book, Changed Times, set in the most turbulent period in Clydesdale’s history, the era of the Covenanters.

When first published last year, it won warm reviews and attracted nationwide attention, leading to Ethyl receiving invitations to literary interviews and to give talks on her work and covenanting in general.

She was, however, still surprised and flattered when Changed Times was chosen by South Lanarkshire Council to be one of just seven recommended history works to be promoted through its library network’s Read the Past, Imagine the Future campaign.

During the initiative’s launch at Hamilton’s Low Parks Museum, Ethyl gave a talk to a large and enthusiastic audience, proving her total command of her subject by giving the whole one-and-a-half-hour address without using notes once.

“I just winged it,” admitted the author, adding that she was delighted at the reception she was given .

A council spokeswoman explained: “The Read the Past, Imagine the Future campaign, supported by the Scottish Library and Information Council, will be live in libraries in South Lanarkshire until December 3.”

She explained why Ethyl had been chosen to launch the campaign, saying: “She has researched covenanting history in the area, and this background knowledge is evident in her novel, which is both addictive and convincing.

“The plot is based around real events which enveloped families and communities during this turbulent and violent period in our nation’s history, driving individuals to make life-changing decisions and perform extraordinary deeds.

“Ethyl’s book is one of the history-based novels being promoted during this initiative.

“Read the Past, Imagine the Future aims to raise awareness among people of all ages to discover what their local library offers, including book-lending, computers and IT facilities, e-books, newspapers and magazines, author events, children’s activities, reading groups, local and family history resources and employment support.

“It also aims to encourage reading throughout communities across Scotland and to widen knowledge of local and national history.

“Library users can also enter a competition to win a £50 book token by submitting a book review, either to their local library or on Twitter using the hashtag #ReaDiscover16 and including @southlanarkshirelibraries in the tweet.

More details are available in libraries or online at

Gerry Campbell, general manager of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, said:“With this campaign, we want to inspire people to visit their local library and pick up a new book and enjoy reading for the pleasure it brings.

“It’s amazing how much books and reading can teach you and open up your imagination.

“Modern libraries offer something for people of all ages. We want to connect people to the possibilities and opportunities at their local library through our books, our people and our technology.”